As the year comes to a close, it’s time to reminisce about the foods of 2017 that we can’t forget — the ones that oozed flavor and made us drool.
Among our year-end favorites are a new way to eat an underrated vegetable, a bacony twist on a childhood favorite, a dish where American barbecue meets Thailand and a swoon-worthy pizza.
Here’s a snapshot of the eight dishes we especially enjoyed this year and hope to revisit in 2018 and beyond.
Sweet potato cannelloni at Table X
$7 • Like many winter vegetables, the sweet potato is underrated. It took the playfulness of three young chefs at this innovative new restaurant to show the star potential of this root vegetable. There’s no pasta involved, so it’s cannelloni in shape only, with a thin slice of sweet potato wrapped around a creamy farmer cheese that is made in house (as is everything). A garnish of chile pepper flakes and watercress added a little heat, while a sprinkle of sesame seeds added a subtle, but critical, flavor. It was so simple, yet so beyond simple. The menu at Table X is ever changing, so this is no longer on the menu, but I promise you, there will be something equally inspiring.
• Table X, 1457 E. 3350 South, Millcreek; 385-528-3712 or tablexrestaurant.com
– Anne Wilson
PB&J at White Horse Spirits and Kitchen
$10 • Far from the expected childhood favorite of peanut butter and jelly, the PB&J is pork belly and jam — and no porcine lover will want to miss it. Thick slices of seared Berkshire pork belly are dolloped with a sweet and tangy bourbon maple onion jam and paired with fresh green apple matchstick slices. Build the perfect bite atop the crusty brioche and prepare to swoon over this swine.
• White Horse Spirits and Kitchen, 325 Main St., Salt Lake City; 801-363-0137 or whitehorseslc.com
— Heather L. King
Red curry with soft-shell crab at Fav Bistro
$18.95 • I associate soft-shell crab with the East Coast, so when it turned up on the menu of this quirky, Thai-influenced bistro, I had to try it. Smart move. A whole fried crab presided over a bowl of softly spicy, vegetable-studded red curry sauce that formed a velvety blanket for basmati rice. It was exotic and delicious, and healthy to boot, as is most of the food at Fav. If you’ve never tried soft-shell crab, this would be the perfect opportunity.
• Fav Bistro, 1984 E. Murray Holladay Road, Holladay; 801-676-9300 or annystakeonthai.com/fav-bistro/
Thai yellow curry with brisket at 565 Firehouse
$12 • 565 Firehouse offers fusion barbecue at its finest — blending smoked meats originating in the Southern United States and melding them with flavors of southeast Asia. Order up the mildly spicy Thai yellow curry filled with fork-tender chunks of carrots and potatoes and then add in some perfectly smoked chopped brisket with a gorgeous smoke ring. It’s all balanced with a fresh green salad dressed with an addictive garlic, cilantro and ranch dressing and plenty of rice too.
• 565 Firehouse is at 565 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City; 801-268-3374 or 565firehouse.com
Chicken hash at Fireside
$19 • Hash is just chopped-up meat, often with some other chopped-up stuff thrown in. It’s a classic comfort food that got a 21st-century makeover at this bar on a made-over Regent Street in the heart of Salt Lake City. This time, the chopped meat was chicken, revved up with onion and tangy cheese and made into a patty that was served on top of excellent mashed potatoes. A scattering of topped pancetta added fat and flavor, while underused fava beans lent that heft only legumes can provide. The kicker was a lemon basil sauce that pulled the whole thing together and made this a dish that could fortify anyone against a dark night, a raging snowstorm or a run-of-the-mill hangover.
• Fireside on Regent, 126 S. Regent St.; 801-359-4011 or firesideonregent.com
$14 (lunch) and $20 (dinner) • Carmine’s owner Carmine Delli Bovi imports Caputo flour from Naples, Italy, and installed a wood-fired oven at the front of his restaurant in Cottonwood Heights to fire up Neopolitan thin-crust pizzas for guests. His namesake creation is worth seeking out just for the housemade bacon marmalade generously dolloped on each slice for just the right amount of sweetness. Even better, the spread is elevated by the addition of fresh mozzarella, peppery arugula, parmesan and cherry tomato halves. It’s $14 at lunch; $20 for dinner.
• Carmine’s, 6926 S. Promenade Drive, Cottonwood Heights; 801-921-9048 or carmines.restaurant
Lobster roll at Freshies Lobster Co.
$11 to $25 • Park City is such an improbable place to find the World’s Best Lobster Roll, but amazing food can turn up in the oddest places. The owners of this tiny café in Prospector Square are from the East Coast and have a lot of experience with sustainable lobster fishing. And they know what to do with the sweet, succulent meat from those crustaceans. Available in three sizes, the sandwiches feature a buttery roll stuffed with chunks of lobster and are served with chips. You get the best of two worlds: mountain and ocean.
• Freshies, 1897 Prospector Ave., Park City; 435-631-9861 or freshieslobsterco.com/
Black beer bondiolas at The Eklektik
$17 • Downtown Salt Lake City gained an art gallery, thrift shop and multicultural restaurant filled with whimsy and wonder when The Eklektik opened its doors in 2017, delivering a menu highlighting dishes from Mexico, Europe and South America. Try the black beer bondiolas — a dish that nods to the Argentinian countryside. Tender pork loin medallions are braised in black beer and mustard and served with earthy sautéed mushrooms and onions. A creamy white sauce adds richness alongside a simple side of rice.
• The Eklektik, 60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City; 385-528-3675 or theeklektik.com